Farmhouse File Box

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My farmhouse file box saves me every day!  If you need help with paperwork, to do list, and reminders, this will help you too. 

Farmouse tickle file system

My organization area that needed the most help is paperwork!  I’m a note taker, list maker, planner and scrap collector.

Old tickler file

Have you heard of a tickler file?  I set one up once, but it was ugly. I didn’t use it.  If you don’t know what a tickler file is, keep reading.

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The tickler file system

A tickler file contains 43 files.  One file for each month and thirty-one files for the days.  The system is called tickler because you move your hands over the files as you work the system.  The files rotate from front to back.  I found a couple of tickler systems on Amazon you might be interested in trying. Click here to view the collection.

Here’s what I needed for this to work.

  1. Available {tucked into a file cabinet will not work for me}
  2. In plain sight {if I see it I’ll use it}
  3. Farmhouse style {to be in plain sight it has to be farmhouse}
  4. Unique {I tend to use items that are unique}
  5. Feel good to the touch {I’m tactile and enjoy things that feel vintage, ticklers tend to be plastic binders or folders}
  6. Fit my needs to control paper {I’m a note taking, list maker, planner, and scrap collector}

Steps to make Farmhouse File Box

I remembered I had a couple of boxes of old books in very bad shape bought over the years from yard sales and thrift shops. Broken bindings, pages stuck together, pages missing, and even mildew.


The next morning I pulled out the boxes and picked out 25 books.

Thrift store books tickler file

The next step I wrestled with in my mind, paced the floor and felt a bit guilty.  But in the end, I took a box cutter and cut off the fronts and backs of the 25 books. Whew!!

My old book disclaimer! I had reservations about using old books for crafts.  We have 3 boxes of books gathered over the years.  Books bought at yard sales and thrift shops and stored in the garage.  Most were not in good shape when I bought them.  Many were green and blue for decorating a bookcase.  The more tattered and torn the better.  We’ve moved the books several times, but for 9-years they sit in storage.  I had to get rid of some due to mold…yuck.  But now that I’ve found some creative ways to reuse them, I feel we can love them all over again in their new life.

The file box

Tickler file box

I don’t know why my grandmother’s hand is holding the wood in the photo below??? You will reach an age when your putting on a shirt and your mother’s hand comes through the sleeve. In a few more years it will be your grandmother’s hand.

Anyway…I cut 5 pieces of leftover wood to make a box with a tall back. Using the table sander, I sanded the edges to give an aged look to the wood.

Aging wood for box

Since I want a farmhouse style I used the barn wood technique. It’s torn #0000 steel wool in a jar soaked in white vinegar for 24 hours and tea made with a tea bag. You can read more about the new wood to old barn wood technique here.

Boards before with tea

I brushed on the tea. The tea doesn’t need to be hot.

Boards after

Next, I brushed on the vinegar mixture.

Making tickler file box

Using wood glue and clamps I made a box with a very high back.  I painted our “monogram” on the box and sanded it to achieve an old lettering effect.

Farmhouse style dividers

Book covers

Now I brushed off the sawdust and step inside to the book covers and backs. Using a creamy white and almost black {my two favorite colors} I painted 1 through 31 at the top for the days of the month.

Book covers marked

Next, I painted the 12 months of the year and I included the 7 days of the week. A tickler file has 43 files and does not usually include the days of the week. Including them helps me.  I tend to do budgeting on Monday, marketing on Tuesday, etc.. Having Monday gives me a quick place to put receipts.

Filling the tickler file

Farmhouse file box Country Design Style

I filled the box with my book covers. Today is the 12th so it goes in the front. Next is 13 through 31. I stick the following month after 31 which is October. I place the 1 through 11 days after October. Then the rest of the months sit in the back. I add the days of the week behind the numbered days. Behind 12 is Wednesday, behind 13 is Thursday, etc. Monday and Tuesday move behind 17 and 18. As the day and month end, the book cover rotates to the back.

Farmhouse file box Country Design Style

I filled the box with receipts, notes, daily planner sheets, cards, & to-do items. Plus all the papers laying on my the desk.

Farmhouse file box Country Design Style

I pulled a few things out for you to see. A birthday card for mom is behind the June book cover. A postcard about an October design event is behind October’s book cover. A reminder to research a product is behind the 9th book cover. Receipts are behind Monday and 17 book cover. I even put cash behind Friday and 14 because I have a hair appointment Friday. Wahoo!!

Each day I gather items for that day and rotate the book cover to the back. The beginning of each month I place items gathered throughout the year. Then place each behind the day I want to do them.

Farmhouse File Box for Pinning | Country Design Style |

I love the way the old collected books with vintage colors work with the homemade barn wood. Its style and feel would look great on our kitchen counter, or on a side table in the living room.

Additional note…I have been using my farmhouse box for a while now. Something I didn’t realize, the box is different each day.  A different book cover is showing each day.

Love that!

Question for the to-do list makers:

Have you gone to your to-do list to give yourself a big old check mark only to realize that task is not on the list, so you add it?


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One Comment

  1. Great project although I have to say that the use of hardcover book covers hurts me to the very core… I am a book lover beyond all reason!

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